GAME 8: Wainwrong
One of the worst outings in Adam Wainwright‘s career combined with the weather to produce one of the more miserable home openers in modern Cardinal history. The Cubs bounced the Cardinals 9-5 in the cold and rain at Busch Stadium.
WAINO NOT BUENO: Anybody else wishing that Wainwright would’ve taken some extra time to get right following his surgery? The notable decrease in Wainwright’s fastball was even more pronounced today (never topping 89 mph), which made his 83 mph curve much easier to hit. And hit it the Cubs did. The Cubs beat Wainwright like a baby seal. Waino surrendered 8 runs in three innings, capped by a nauseating grand slam to somebody named Bryan LaHair. Hideous.
TAKE IT EASY: I understand that making a leaping save of a home run at the wall is not easy, even when Willie McGee did it every other game back in the eighties. But Matt Holliday looked like a bull charging out of the gate during a Pamplona festival with his “attempt” to snare LaHair’s grand slam. Replays clearly showed that the ball flew just over the top of the wall. Instead of crashing into the wall with a leap that would embarrass a fourth grade girl’s volleyball league, perhaps Holliday should’ve planted himself and used some of that upper body strength to propel himself off of the ground and catch the ball. White men CAN jump, Matt. Overall I would say that Holliday’s defense has been pretty godawful since he arrived here.
HALFWAY: The Cards mounted an admirable comeback in the fifth against Jeff Samardzija, who looks like he should be hitting a bong rather than a strikezone. The five-run fifth came with two outs, and was capped by a ringing triple from teeny-tiny Matt Carpenter into deep right-center. It looked like the Cards had some life. It would not last.
THE NEW FRANKLIN: Is it my imagination, or does Victor Marte walk every first batter he faces?
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: After the rains fizzled out, the Cards wheeled out their galaxy of stars for the pre-game ceremony. It was simple, respectful, and emotional. How great was it to see Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Lou Brock, Whitey Herzog, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendeinst, Tommy Herr, David Eckstein, and Jim Edmonds all at home plate with their respective trophies? Then they hoisted our 11th World Series flag into position – a sight to behold! Overall, it was a classy tribute to past and present achievements in Cardinal history!
COLD SHOULDER: Did anyone else notice how Tony La Russa and Ozzie Smith stayed on opposite ends of the lineup?
MAC ATTACK: Kyle McClellan continues to rehabilitate his image. K-Mac pitched two excellent innings of relief, striking out three and holding the Cubs to one hit. He threw at least two curveballs that were as good as any we’ve seen this year. Maybe we shouldn’t get rid of him just yet …
FROM THE TOP: We can really see how much Rafael Furcal means to this offense. When Furcal gets on, the offense hums. When he doesn’t – like his 0-5 performance today – the offense sputters. Which is not a particularly reassuring thing to consider.
EXTRA EXTRA: I loved seeing Jon Jay take an extra base in the sixth. His dribbler through the right side of the infield and past Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney (nice name, idiot) bounced into right field. Jay accurately assessed the slow pickup from right fielder David DeJesus and scrambled for second. He was out by a mile, but called safe anyway. That is just the kind of passionate baserunning we’ve seen from this club this year, and it’s great that it hasn’t stopped even when we’re blown out.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Matt Carpenter. The kid is a gamer, and his triple was the single best thing about this miserable experience.
CONCLUSION: An awful way to open the season at home. All of the ceremonial stuff and the shiny new gold home jerseys went to waste after five Wainwright pitches and never recovered. If that’s all Waino has in the tank right now, then I suspect there will be a few bumps in the road ahead for this team.